Match Report

Before the referendum, Boris Johnson wrote two articles, one outlining the benefits of the EU and the other urging us to leave. The rest is history.

I feel the same about the game against Manchester City. I’ll start, therefore ,with the positive. The game against Manchester City should be considered an extension of our series of friendlies, as it will be irrelevant to our run in the Premier league. When the opposition can field a side, where the substitute bench is worth £280 million, it was always highly unlikely we would achieve even a draw.

I thought the outcome(negative) would be determined in the first twenty minutes, but I was wrong. We showed real commitment, hassled them on the ball and made them make several mistakes. We demonstrated, unlike many games last season, we could actually pass the ball, although the final pass in their half was lacking. With a bit of luck, we could have got them rattled.

I liked the look of Haller. He controlled the ball well on several occasions and showed commitment in defence. He could become the replacement for Andy Carroll who doesn’t get injured. Fredericks also demonstrated he was progressing well and Kyle Walker showed him how he could use his speed to devastating effect.

I can’t understand why we don’t make more use of free kicks we get just inside the opposition half. They should be used, as one would use a corner. Instead, we make a short pass and within a few seconds the opposition has the ball. Also, we need to stop that lunatic one two (usually between Snodgrass and Anderson), which may work in practice, but has never worked in real play.

I thought the crowd were excellent until the first goal. They were completely bemused by VAR and the end of the game, one felt one should have watched the game on TV, in order to understanding the VAR decisions. Why can’t the VAR replays be shown on the TV and the decisions explained to the crowd? The VAR decision were correct, especially where Rice encroached on the penalty area and was first to the ball after Fabianski had saved.

The referee definitely favoured Manchester City. Time after time, he refused to yellow card players who were making cynical fouls to stop attacks. The slow motion replays I watched after the game reinforced my view.

That’s about it on the positive side.

After the game, Pellegrini said we had to show more strength in defence. This annoyed me intensely, as under his watch, we played a suicide formation. As our general, he should show more flexibility. Instead , he reminded me of a First World War commander, sending his forces forward and ignoring the devastating results. There is no doubt in my mind that we need to play three at the back and have full backs who can defend.

Cresswell is a disaster. How many comments were there about him pre-season? He has completely lost his ability to defend and most of the time can be seen lurking halfway up the pitch looking lost. Pellegrini, who must be deaf and probably can’t read English, so doesn’t read the criticism, made him captain instead. Why did we not bring in a proper full back during the transfer window?

In our next games, we need to capture the spirit of those first twenty minutes. We need to ensure we don’t give the opposition too much time on the ball. Also, we need to learn a lesson from Man City and speed up our play as we get nearer the opposition goal. Man City are a brilliant side and I hope this debacle is quickly put aside.